Thursday, July 3, 2014

Morels in a Sherry Cream Sauce with Asparagus & Campanelle

This is an easy recipe that highlights the morel mushroom in a simple but indulgent cream sauce. Morels and asparagus pair well together due to their earthy flavor. The sherry cooking wine adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance everything out. I like to use campanelle pasta because it's shape holds cream sauces nicely and I think the ruffled edges compliment the morel's ridges. ~Audrey
1/4 oz dried morels
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup sherry cooking wine
3/4 cup half 'n half
1/4 Asiago cheese
1/2 cup asparagus tips
4 oz campanelle pasta
salt and white pepper to taste
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Serves 2

Morels grow abundantly in the Interior of Alaska due to all our forest fires. They show up the year after a fire in early to mid June. They have a unique earthy flavor and a meaty texture when cooked. Mushroom connoisseurs consider them a delicacy.  

Place dried morels in a glass measuring cup and pour 1 cup of hot water over them. Let soak for about 10 minutes until they plump up. Strain and slice mushrooms into rings. Make sure you reserve the mushroom broth. 

Saute garlic, shallots and sliced morels in butter and olive oil about 1-2 minutes. Add the sherry cooking wine and reduce, about 2 minutes. Add your reserved mushroom broth and simmer about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add half 'n half and your Asiago cheese and let simmer about 10 minutes, stirring. Make sure you don't let it boil. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
Meanwhile cook your pasta according to directions. With 4-5 minutes left, throw in your asparagus tips. When sauce is finished and asparagus is tender, toss in your pasta and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped chives.

Here I am with my friend Linda on the hunt for morels. All you need is a bucket, small paring knife and lots of mosquito spray.

In Alaska, morel mushrooms grow the year after a forest fire. In the Interior, where I live, we have a lot of forest fires during the summer creating the perfect conditions for morels to thrive. 

Morels kind of look like a pine cone. Their cap is sponge-like and they can be very light tan (we call them blondies) to brown to very dark brown, almost black. 

Morels are hollow on the inside which makes them easy to distinguish from poisonous lookalikes. Harvesting season up here is early to mid June and lasts for about 2 weeks. This year we had a lot of rain so they just kept growing and I kept on harvesting until the very end of June. 

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